The Desert Rub’ al Khali


The closest desert to Salalah, which is the largest sand desert in the world, is called Rub’ al Khali which means “Empty Quarter”. The desert covers around 650,000 square kilometers (250,000 square miles) including parts of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Oman.

The terrain is covered with sand dunes with heights up to 250 meters (820 ft), interspersed with gravel and gypsum plains. This type of desert consists mainly of quartz sand, which was formed by the erosion of wind and water of the gravel desert. A characteristic of the sandy desert are the dunes or shifting sand dunes. A dune is formed by an elevation of sand that is blown by the wind and deposited. Sand and the absence of a closed vegetation cover presuppose that dunes can form.


In July and August, the temperature in the desert is reaching a daily average of 47°C (117°F), whereas in January and February the daily average temperature is reaching only around 12°C (54°F) and frosts are recorded as well. During your desert tour with Salalah4Tourist we recommend you wear summer clothes and maybe a light jacket for after sunset when the desert cools down/for the way back to Salalah. When you stay for overnight in the desert, please bring warm clothes (long pants/warm jacket).

If you are lucky, you will meet the rare black camels during your tour and will have the chance to take a picture with them. Did you know that camels, thanks to a special kidney, can easily drink salt water and up to 200 liters in just 15 minutes? More interesting facts and information about camels will be shared by your local tour guide.


The city of Shisr is another attraction on the tour into the desert and is surrounded by numerous legends. The most famous dubs Shisr as the legendary city of Ubar, which was once an important city as a crossroads of caravan routes that made it rich through trade in frankincense, spices, coppers and probably Arabian horses. Even the Queen of Sheba is said to have been here to buy incense. Ubar is mentioned in the Bible and the Koran and described as a magnificent city with many columns. The Greek geographer and astronomer Claudius Ptolemy and the Arab historian Mohammad Al Hassan Al Hamdani also reported on the legendary Ubar in their writings. Despite an extensive search, however, the legendary city could not be located for a long time. On the way there, your tour guide will tell you how Ubar was discovered…